Windows 7 Prices setSEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. said Thursday that prices for the Windows 7 computer operating system are largely in line with those for Vista, and that consumers who buy PCs before the new system goes on sale in October will get free upgrades. To drum up demand among people who aren’t in the market for a new PC, Microsoft also said it is taking limited preorders for Windows 7, selling some for as little as $50. Windows 7 is Microsoft is promising a smooth launch for Windows 7, in part because it’s not a radical departure from Vista.
Michigan may be next GM choiceDETROIT — Michigan has won the high-stakes competition with two other states to build General Motors Corp.’s next-generation subcompact car, a person briefed on the decision said Thursday. The announcement that the car will be built at a retooled midsize car factory in Orion Township near Pontiac will come Friday, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public. It will save about 1,200 jobs at the factory, which had been scheduled to shut down later this year.
State tops shut dealership listSANDY LAKE, Pa. — Pennsylvania is bearing the brunt as General Motors and Chrysler end their associations with many dealerships. The companies are pulling a total of more than 140 franchises in Pennsylvania. That’s the most of any state. Pennsylvania records fewer new car sales per dealer than many other states. To blame are declining sales and the large number of small-volume shops in a vast state composed largely of small towns isolated by mountains. GM is pulling out from a Chevy dealership in tiny Sandy Lake. That’s drawing a strong reaction from residents who say the company is marring the town’s character. Carmakers want fewer, larger, more modern dealerships so that each sells and services more cars efficiently.
Beef company issues recallGREELEY, Colo. — JBS Swift Beef Co. of Greeley has recalled about 41,000 of its beef products because of possible E. coli contamination. JBS Swift spokesman Chandler Keys said Thursday no illnesses have been reported. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the products were produced on April 21-22 and were shipped to distributors and retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. All the recalled beef is in boxes bearing "EST. 969” and packaging date codes of 042109 or 042209. Consumers with questions about the recall may contact the JBS Swift’s consumer hot line at (800) 555-7675.
Wachovia given $1.4 million fineWASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said Thursday it fined the St. Louis branch of Wachovia Securities LLC $1.4 million for failing to deliver certain prospectuses and product descriptions to clients. The customers bought select investment products between July 2003 and December 2004. The company was also fined for supervisory failures but did not admit or deny the charges. FINRA found that Wachovia didn’t provide prospectuses in 6,000 out of about 22,000 transactions that occurred between the 2003-2004 timeframe. The transactions’ market value was about $256 million. Prospectuses were not delivered for various reasons, including coding errors and failing to make sure vendors performed the proper deliveries. At the time of the failures, Wachovia Securities was a subsidiary of Wachovia Corp., which was bought by Wells Fargo & Co. last fall.
AIG gives stake to reduce loanNEW YORK — American International Group Inc. said Thursday it will reduce outstanding federal loans by $25 billion by giving the government a preferred stake in two units that will be spun off from the insurance giant. AIG is placing two life insurance subsidiaries — American International Assurance Co. and American Life Insurance Co. — into special purpose vehicles ahead of planned initial public offerings. SPVs are entities sometimes set up ahead of the spinoff or sale of a unit to separate its operations from the parent company. As part of the preferred stake plan, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will receive preferred interests in the SPVs which will eventually be independent companies once a public offering is completed.
Kimberly-Clark cuts 1,600 jobsCHICAGO — Household-products maker Kimberly-Clark Corp. said Thursday it plans to cut 1,600 jobs, or 3 percent of its global work force, as it slims down in the tough economy. The maker of Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers and scores of other household items employs 53,000 people around the world. It plans to make the cuts primarily among salaried and nonproduction workers. Executives said the company doesn’t plan to close any plants. Profits at Kimberly-Clark have fallen for the past 18 months, as shoppers cut back on spending because of the recession, high unemployment and the housing downturn. Meanwhile revenue, which had been steadily rising, began to fall late last year. From Wire Reports